More than 3000 firearms, guns, AK 47s etc. were given to politicians and others for their own protection by the previous regime, many of whom are now out of office and do not need these fire arms.
Some of these weapons may have fallen into the hands of contract killers, highway robbers, underground smugglers etc. who are a danger to a free society. Even the late Ranjan Wijeratne wanted these weapons to be returned to the Police/Army, but still these VVIPs refuse to surrender these weapons.
With the recent incidents of shooting in the Negombo town and elsewhere by rival political parties, innocent civilians were killed in the crossfire, and once again the people are living in fear.
This reminds me when the Dunblane school massacre in Britain, Police launched a month long amnesty after public outcry that followed the deaths in March '96 where 16 innocent school children and their teacher were shot dead by a social misfit, Thomas Hamilton who then killed himself.
Almost 5000 weapons have been surrendered in Britain in the first week of the gun amnesty launched by the authorities, 3993 in England and Wales and 910 in Scotland.
Similarly why cannot the Government take immediate action? It should publish the names and addresses of those people to whom these weapons were given and if within a time limit these are not surrendered all efforts should be made by the Police to take appropriate action. Whoever they may be, they should be charged in courts and jailed for the offense. If the present Law is ineffective, amendments should be tabled in Parliament without any delay.
Accidents, some of them fatal, involving private passenger coaches are on the increase. Going by newspaper reports the offenders are often drivers of such coaches. The victims are innocent passengers and other road-users.
It is common knowledge that crews of most private buses are a law unto themselves. Reckless driving regardless of traffic regulations, dangerous and torturous overloading, discourtesy and rank rudeness to commuters continue unabated and unchecked.
Except for routine and random checks by the Traffic Police, there appears to be no concerted, co ordinated and consistent effort to nab errant drivers and prevent the prevalent type of inhuman and unsafe overloading not to speak of the total absence of any attempt by anyone to save the commuter from the arrogant and shabby treatment meted out by some uncivilized conductors.
Severe deterrent punishment - even cancellation of the driving licence of drivers found guilty of serious traffic offences involving death - has become a crying necessity. Why cannot the authorities enforce a definite limit to overloading? Cannot the "Private Bus Operators" Associations think of measures to punish and even discontinue the services of incorrigible employees as much as they are concerned about the need to increase fares?
Most bus operators are worried about their rupees and cents only. Bus crews are ever ready to walk out and inconvenience commuters on the most flimsy and frivolous grounds. The inarticulate and hapless commuter is called upon to endure numerous difficulties and travails - increased fares, disregard to time schedules, absence of adequate transport after dark, torturous over-crowding of buses and above all, the utter rudeness and incivility of bus crews. Pedestrians and other road users who leave home are not sure whether they would return home or end up in hospital or even at the Kanatte.
It is time that everyone concerned took serious notice of this alarming trend and evolve some meaningful measures to arrest this dangerous situation. The Police, Transport Ministry officials, Associations of Private Bus Operators and even the Association for Prevention of Accidents need to come together and propose some speedy and effective solution to this grave problem. It may perhaps be necessary to think of fresh legislation in this regard.
I am a regular commuter who travels in the SLCTB and the private owned coaches daily from Moratuwa to Colombo and back. It is a very hopeless and annoying situation when one has to travel after office hours by public transport. I often stand at the Kollupitiya bus stand (near the National Savings Bank) for a bus, sometimes as long as 45 minutes to one hour, where there are hundreds of people waiting to get home as soon as they possibly can.
The yellow semi luxury buses were recently introduced to mainly ease tavel for the office workers. But unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Many times, I have seen the yellow "limited stop" semi luxury buses drive past EMPTY without stopping at the Kollupitiya bus stand. The whole idea in introducing these buses was to limit congestion and to ease the office worker. Often these buses go empty, thereby very little revenue being generated to the government, and there is no point in running these buses if they are going empty. As a working mother, time is very precious and one has to get back home early (hopefully with the traffic jams) to attend to your kids and the household chores.
It would be appreciated if immediate steps are taken to rectify this situation. So that everyone could enjoy the benefit of these semi luxury buses, and that bus travel does not become a TRAVAIL anymore.
Milk production in Sri Lanka has dwindled to such an extent that we are importing annually milk powder to the value of six billion Rupees. This amount is likely to increase with our increasing population. It is therefore necessary that we should take effective steps, almost immediately to step up milk production.
The dairy industry is varied in Sri Lanka. High yielding cows are reared in the hill country but a fraction of the profit realised on milk is spent on feeding the animals. Milk produced in the estate sector is poor in relation to the cattle population there. Production of animals for draught and meat is also poor in these sectors.
But in the dry zone, it is a different story. In the Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa Dirstricts, reserved pasture lands, "Villus", large extents of forest reserve, tank beds of major tanks and large extents of fallowing paddy fields after harvest provide unlimited pasture right round the year. Cattle population is relatively high in these districts, the majority of the breeders owning over 200 animals each. They produce sufficient milk, cost of production of which is practically nil. Production of animals for draught and meat is also high.
As a breeder, I have to point out that the animals in these districts are degenerated stock, due to inbreeding and the Department of Animal Production and Health is responsible for this state of affairs. "The sire is half the herd" is the maxim in animal husbandry and foreign blood should be introduced into the herd atleast every five years. I could well remember that in 1941, when I was working in the Polonnaruwa District, Dr. W.D.E. Perera, the then Farm Manager of the Polonnaruwa Livestock Farm, on the directive of the then Minister of Agriculture brought stud bulls and bull calves of the Kankayan Sindi and Tharparkar breeds from India, which were the prize winners at the All India Cattle Show held at New Delhi and the offsprings of these helped to upgrade our stock. Dr. W.D.E Perera, as Livestock Officer, has issued me bull calves off this stock for my farm.
When M.D. Banda was Minister of Agriculture, Hariana bulls were imported from India and stud centres in every Veterinary Surgeon's range were established. The breeders were able to get these studs on loan and introduce them in their herds. The results were surprising and we had very good animals off them. When the studs grew old, the Department of Animal Production and Health closed down the stud centres, without replacing them with young animals. Even issue of bull calves to breeders was neglected and these were the contributory factors for the present degenerated stock and drop in milk production.
When the N.L.D.B. and the M.A.S.L. started animal husbandry about 20-25 years ago, it is the Batticaloa and Ampara Districts breeders, who supplied breeding stock for them by thousands. Animals were tested for brusalosis and purchased. A stud is an important factor in the herd, but today, any animal with four legs and a tail is considered a stud. Bull calves issued to the breeders now are not tested for brucellosis and recently, a bull calf without testicles was issued to a Government Veterinary Surgeon in the Batticaloa District to be sold to a breeder for stud.
According to the media, the advice of the Veterinary Surgeons' Association and that of the Dairy Development Board of India is sought to step up milk production. In my opinion, the breeder and his cow can only solve the present state of the dairy industry. A.I. Service is good for the hill country and the estate sector, where A.I. calves could be reared under intensive care.
In the dry zone, where animals are reared in the open range in large numbers, stud sevice is the best and I would appeal to the Government, on behalf of the breeders to issue imported bull calves and selected bull calves from the Livestock Farms at subsidised rates and also establish stud centres, wherever concentration of large herds are found. If this is done, atleast now, our cattle will be upgraded and automatically milk production will improve by the year 2003.
More letters to the editor - The Tamil problem: what are the tests of nationhood? * Don't rob yourself * Underground road crossings in Kandy * Justice denied to tenant * Stagnant drain along 7th X Road, Panadura
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